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Application of long-range weather forecasts to agricultural decision problems in Europe

  • P. CALANCA (a1), D. BOLIUS (a1), A. P. WEIGEL (a2) and M. A. LINIGER (a2)

Summary

Agriculture can benefit substantially from long-range weather forecasts, for the month or the season, which can help to optimize farming operations and deal more effectively with the adverse impacts of climate variability, including extreme weather events. In the context of climate change, long-range weather forecasts also represent key elements for the development of adaptation strategies. In spite of an undeniable potential, long-range forecasts issued for instance by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) have yet to find widespread application in European agriculture. To address partially the question of why this is the case, the performance of the ECMWF monthly ensemble forecasting system was examined. It was noted that predictability is currently limited to about 3 weeks for temperature and 2 weeks for precipitation and solar radiation. This may appear deceptive at first sight, but it was noticed that precipitation forecasts over a month are, overall, at least as valuable as information obtained from observed climatology. Encouraged by this finding, the possibility of using monthly forecasts to predict soil water availability was tested. In an operational context, this could serve as a basis for scheduling irrigation. Positive skills were found for lead times of up to 1 month. It was concluded that more systematic investigations of the possibilities offered by long-range forecasts should be undertaken in the future. However, this will require additional efforts to increase the quality of the forecasts, design appropriate application tools and promote the dissemination of the outcome within the agriculture community.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email: pierluigi.calanca@art.admin.ch

References

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Application of long-range weather forecasts to agricultural decision problems in Europe

  • P. CALANCA (a1), D. BOLIUS (a1), A. P. WEIGEL (a2) and M. A. LINIGER (a2)

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